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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8190
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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If I’m intending to take someone to court over damage to my

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If I’m intending to take someone to court over damage to my property and have given them 2 months to come and inspect the damage but they have refused, given that I have photos of the damage (it is a cracked inside wall caused by building work next door), can a professional go ahead and pull plaster away to inspect the brickwork underneath the cracks before sending the neighbour my claim or does the wall have to be left as it is?As well as inviting him in, I’ve suggested in a previous letter that a non-partisan professional look at it and he ignored that. If I don’t look underneath the plaster, I won’t know if there is structural damage in order to get a quote to fix it. But if when he reads the letter Â*threatening court action, he says I’ll send someone to view it after all, would that make it difficult for me? Or has he forfeited that chance after being asked to come in twice and not responding? Does the wall have to be in the state it was in with the original damage or will my photos suffice? Thanks in advance.
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about this? In which country do you live? If different, which country is your legal question related to?
Customer: I live in London Uk.
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Written the neighbour a letter 3 weeks ago suggesting a non partisan professional look at the cracks in the wall but he ignored the letter
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I just want to know if I can look under the cracks in the wall or if it has to be left as was before it goes to court

Hello, my name is Jim and I am a qualified lawyer happy to help you today.

The fact you have photographic evidence is enough for you to start the claim. You do not need to leave the wall as it is. You can get it inspected and gather the evidence you need now. The fact the other party has refused to inspect is not your issue here. You have been amenable in this regard. The photos will suffice if they are sufficiently clear, yes. But it would strengthen your claim if you look under the cracks and get more evidence - the court will decide the claim based on what evidence you can supply, so bear that in mind.

There is a protocol before you take someone to court though - I would recommend that you send them a formal letter before action to demand payment within 14 days and say that if they do not pay you, you will issue county court proceedings against them. See attached template as an example of what to say. Please let me know if you cannot see the letter which I have uploaded. You will need to tailor this letter to your situation.

You will need to register at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk so that you are ready to issue the claim in the event they dispute the claim and do not pay you. The website is very user-friendly and you would not need a lawyer to use the money claim site. Claims with a value of under £10,000 are classed as a "small claim", so legal costs are not recoverable and the matter may be dealt with on paper by a Judge, not at a hearing. A hearing may be necessary if the court thinks that oral evidence is required to dispose of the case.

Claims between £10,000 and £25,000 are subject to fixed costs only so if you lose then the risk is minimal. Further, the money claim website allows you to sue for an amount up to £100,000. For sums over this figure you would need to use the paper method (I have the forms if required).

You would claim the sum for the loss, the court issue fee (details of the money claim fees are listed here at page 5: www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/court-fees) and court interest which is 8% calculated on a daily rate from the date of loss to date of court judgment. The site allows you to calculate the interest and add it to the claim.

If you are on a low income or have low savings (or in receipt of benefits), you can ask the court for a fee remission so you do not have to pay the court issue fee.

You can check your eligibility for a fee remission here:

http://www.gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees

If you are eligible, let me know as you cannot use the online money claims site – you have to use the paper method, which is an N1 claim form sent to the County Court Money Claims Centre (I have a copy, let me know if you would like one).

If you win then once you have the CCJ from the court the defendant has 14 days to pay in full. If they do not then it gets registered with the credit agencies after 30 days. You can also enforce the CCJ with the county court bailiffs or transfer the debt to the High Court for a small additional fee assuming the total amount owed is at least £600 and you can use the high court enforcement officers who have greater powers than county court bailiffs. The transfer fee is added on to the debt and payable by the defendant.

There are other enforcement methods which I can help with, including bank account freeze, charging order on their property (and then apply to force a sale), apply to summons them to court for questioning, attachment of earnings order against their employer (if employed), apply to bankrupt them if they owe £5,000 or more - all of which can ensure you are actually repaid the money.

You may find they just pay you after receiving the letter before action – hopefully they will want to avoid litigation.

I hope this helps - if you can please accept the answer and give me a 5 star rating (there should be a button at the top of your screen to do this), I can answer follow up Q&A's at no extra charge and Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

Many thanks,

Jim

JimLawyer and 6 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 days ago.
This is incredibly helpful. I will need to digest it and may have a follow up question but for now, thanks so much JIm.